thrips on houseplants

Ultimate Guide on How to Get Rid of Thrips on Houseplants

If you are reading this blog, there is no doubt that you are a houseplant lover, and you have probably heard of thrips. Thrips are demon pests! And when they come into your plants, you are in for the fight of your life. 

If you suspect you have thrips on houseplants, you could be wondering, what are thrips, and where do they come from? Are my plants infested? How do I get rid of thrips? 

You are at the right place. Let’s dig deep and get to understand everything about thrips.

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What Are Thrips?

Apart from just being dangerous pests, thrips are tiny and common pests found in houseplants and outdoor gardens. There are hundreds of different species of thrips. They are teeny small insects with wings – although they jump more than they fly.

When thrips invade your home, they take up residence on your plant as they think it is delicious. They damage plants by feeding on them and sucking the life out of them. Female thrips lay eggs in plant tissue. One of the reasons why thrips are hard to control is that they do not need males to reproduce. 

Thrips are known to go dormant during the winter. When it starts to warm up during the spring, the female thrips will lay lots of eggs, which take a few days to hatch if the weather is warm enough.

The life cycle of thrips takes about 1-2 weeks. Adult thrips have a lifespan of 7 or so weeks. This is critical since it helps explain why it is so difficult to get rid of them.

Where Do Thrips Come From Indoors?

Generally, when you notice thrips on one of your houseplants, they most likely came home with another plant. It is essential to always isolate new plants for a few weeks before introducing them to other plants.

Since they are a common garden pest, thrips can also hitch a ride inside a cut flower or veggies that you bring in from the garden.

Additionally, they are thin, and the adults can fly. Therefore, it is possible that thrips could come in through open window screens and doors. 

Read also: How to Get Rid of Fruitfly in Houseplants

Organic Thrips Treatment Methods

Once you notice thrips on your houseplant, the first step is to quarantine the infested plant immediately. Then check all the surrounding houseplants for signs of thrips, and isolate any others you may find.

Ensure you start treating the infestation right away. Additionally, to help prevent thrips from spreading, always wash your hands after handling an infested houseplant.

Below is a list of the best organic methods of getting rid of thrips on indoor plants. Whatever process you settle for, you must be persistent to notice any tangible results. 

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1. Rinse the Leaves

If you can, leave your houseplant and rinse the leaves with the hose. This will get rid of many of the bugs and quickly knock down their population.

You could also rinse the leaves in the show or sink instead, and that will work too. Ensure you use tepid water, and don’t overwater your houseplant in the process.

2. Insecticidal Soap

Soap kills thrips on contact and will aid in giving you the upper hand. You can use a pre-mixed organic insecticidal soap or make your own using 1 tsp mild liquid soap to 1 Liter of water.

Ensure you spray it directly on the infested leaves to kill the bugs. Insecticidal soap does not have any residual effect, so it is important to treat them often to eliminate thrips.

Always test any sprays on a  few leaves first to ensure there is no damage before treating the entire houseplant.

3. Wash Your Houseplant

You can also wash the leaves of your house plant with diluted mild liquid soap and rinse it off with water. This will also kill thrips and help to get the population under control quickly.

Ensure you wash the undersides of leaves as well since that is where thrips like to hide. But before washing all of the leaves, it is best to test the soap on a few leaves first to ensure it does not damage your houseplant.

4. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a favorite of many gardeners regarding pest control. It is a naturally occurring insecticide and has a residual effect that helps deter future infestations.

You can spray a neem oil solution directly on the stems and leaves. This will kill some bugs on contact, and others will die when they feed on the neem oil-covered leaves. 

A pre-mixed hot pepper wax spray or horticultural oil can effectively eliminate thrips on houseplants.

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5. Sticky Traps

Since adult thrips can fly, sticky traps can work effectively in capturing them. Put blue or yellow sticky traps close to the infested houseplant to attract them.

Also, using sticky traps is a great way of monitoring for future infestations so that you can detect them much faster. You can also use them to check for the presence of thrips on other houseplants.

How to Identify Thrips on Houseplants

The early sign of a thrip infestation is dull or gray-colored leaves or leaves with stripes or brown spots. Heavy infestations can cause stunted and malformed growth and bud or leaf drops.

Are Thrips Hard to Eliminate?

The good news is that it is possible to get rid of thrips on houseplants for good and block them from ever coming back.

Nonetheless, please do not attempt to use any synthetic or chemical pesticides on them. Thrips can build up immunity to chemicals quickly, which will only make your problem much worse.

Therefore, always ensure to stick with using organic thrips treatment methods. Not only do they work much better, but you will also not be worried about using dangerous chemicals inside your home.

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Thrips Damage on Leaves

Typically, the first sign of thrip damage on leaves is faded or dirty-looking leaves. The leaves will start turning gray or whitish; eventually brown as the damaged areas begin to die.

Although thrips can kill a houseplant, it is rare. Mature, healthy houseplants can withstand a pretty heavy thrip infestation. The biggest threat is too weak or small houseplants.

Nonetheless, not only is a trip infestation gross, they make your indoor plants appear terrible, and heavy damage can stunt their growth. Other common symptoms include:

  • New growth is deformed
  • Leaves start dropping unexpectedly
  • Flower buds are falling, malformed, or won’t open
  • Parts of the leaves are dying
  • Faded, splotchy, pale-colored leaves
  • Brown stripes on the leaves

If you notice any of these signs on your houseplants, it is time to take a closer look to check for an infestation. Be sure to look underneath the leaves as well!

Do Thrips Live in Soil?

No, thrips do not live in houseplant soil. Those are most likely to be fungus gnats.

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